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University Partnerships

University Partnerships

A community committed to continuous improvement.

Two women sitting at table listen in at a University Partners workshop under the Raising Texas Teacher programmatic initiative.

Our vision

Every new teacher, regardless of their pathway into teaching, is adequately prepared to meet the needs of their students on day one. 

About our University Partnerships

To be effective on their first day in the classroom and beyond, teachers need rigorous, practice-based training with extensive clinical practice. This training must provide teachers with ample opportunities to practice in a classroom setting with support and coaching by an effective teacher, gain a deep knowledge of their content areas, and understand how to support the diverse student populations they will have in their classrooms. 

The importance of ensuring new teachers are classroom-ready is underscored by TEA research that shows students from historically under-served communities are most likely to have a new teacher. In Texas, this means the state’s most vulnerable students are most likely to have a teacher trained in a for-profit alternative certification program, which requires only 15 hours in an in-person classroom setting before becoming a classroom teacher.

Quality teacher training takes time, support, and experience. We believe Texas universities are uniquely equipped to provide the quality preparation needed to ensure new teachers are effective on day one, and that they have the skills and commitment to remain in the profession over time. That is why we are partnering with 27 universities across the state, including every university in the Texas A&M system, to catalyze continuous improvement.

In collaboration with our university partners, we seek to create a culture of continuous improvement within university-based teacher preparation programs. Our goal is to increase the quality of teacher preparation across the state, ensuring every new teacher is prepared to be effective on day one and increasing the teacher retention rate statewide. To achieve this goal we employ two approaches:

Networked Improvement Communities

With the 12 universities that grant the Charles Butt Scholarship for Aspiring Teachers, we facilitate two Networked Improvement Communities (NICs) with the support of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and WestEd. The university staff and faculty participating in Networked Improvement Communities (NICs) are collaboratively working to address two of the most pernicious problems in teacher preparation:

  1. Ensuring all teacher candidates have cohesive and high-quality coaching support during their field experiences
  2. Recruiting a high-quality, diverse pool of future teachers 

Emerging and Texas A&M System Partners Program

With our remaining 15 university partners, which includes every teacher preparation program in the Texas A&M System, we are facilitating a multi-year improvement project aimed at systemic transformation within the participating universities. This continuous improvement project launched with a formative evaluation of every program conducted by TPI-US, and a causal system analysis process facilitated by the Charles Butt Foundation. This work served as the underpinning for annual continuous improvement plans. 

To support its transformation efforts, each university receives:

  • Financial support ranging from $50,000 to $150,000 annually
  • Monthly improvement coaching support from the Charles Butt Foundation
  • Training and coaching support from TeachingWorks to support the implementation of practice-based teacher pedagogy
  • Training and coaching support from WestEd to enhance the universities’ use of data to drive continuous improvement
University Partners sitting at a table

Program goals

  1. Build individual capacity and organizational culture and structures to engage in continuous improvement within partner universities
  2. Build a culture of collaboration across our university-based teacher preparation programs
  3. Increase the quality of teacher preparation programs across the state with a lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion

Pillars of a strong teacher preparation program:

All of our improvement efforts are aligned with our pillars of effective teacher preparation:

Pillar 1: Continuous improvement

A process is in place to periodically gather and analyze appropriate data and use results to drive programmatic improvement.

Pillar 2: Partnerships with school districts

Teacher preparation programs work closely with local school districts, including understanding district shortage areas and areas of emphasis (e.g. district-wide initiatives) to ensure graduates fulfill district needs.

Pillar 3: Rigorous clinical preparation

Prospective teachers have ample opportunities to practice teaching in classroom settings and receive quality feedback and coaching from teacher educators.

Pillar 4: Performance-based progression

A system of practice-based formative assessments is in place to ensure prospective teachers can demonstrate the knowledge and skills needed to be excellent teachers before they graduate.



university-based teacher preparation programs across the state supported through Raising Texas Teachers


of new teachers certified through university undergraduate programs are trained by these universities

Program contact information:

Thea Ulrich Lewis, Director of Raising Texas Teachers

Thea Ulrich-Lewis

Director of Raising Texas Teachers

Other statewide programs